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FRED FIRST: Still is Still Moving . . .

We just don’t quite know when the VAN will be at the door


The storyline for the past 6 months has been the tale of our discovery that living in an off-the-beaten-path one-stop-light place like Floyd, Virginia comes with challenges for health and housing in what I am understanding as retirement’s ugly older sister, or Retirement Part Two.

Part One of retirement is the Golden Child, if you are fortunate. You have stability, predictability, security, and if you’re living right and have good genes, you can still do the vast majority of the physical demands of daily living, including traveling, gardening, hiking and working long enough in the yard or shop or woodpile to get many if not all jobs done.

Then comes Part Two that I have been stunned to discover less than a year ago. It seems to appear around 72 to 75, based on the small sample size of The Great Gray Diaspora of Floyd County, Virginia.

Mortal capacities inevitably diminish in this chapter of life, and the likelihood of needing to hire out those once-enjoyable or otherwise-mandatory activities increases towards full dependency, given enough passing time. This increased need is true even for those fortunate souls whose health span extends into their eighties.

Sooner or later . . . Eventually . . . Inevitably . . . you lose your grip.

And so with these predictable future needs not met where we live and have belonged for 27 years, we have made the difficult decision to find health and housing options near family. This time next year, we expect to be living in a “Life Plan Community” in Columbia Missouri.


It is by now known in our web of friends and neighbors that we will be leaving at some future point. The two questions we are often getting are 1) when will you be leaving? and 2) when will you put your house on the market? And this communications post is for the purpose of answering those questions, especially so that local readers know what state we are in, so to speak.


► Short answer: There is much unavoidable uncertainty.

Our answer is necessarily vague: “late 2024 or early 2025.” And that is the most precise answer we can give.

REASON: this is the best answer any retirement facility can give to a future resident who is waiting to be taken in. It is not possible to predict when an independent living apartment will be vacated by a current occupant who moves on–whatever that might mean.

At some point, we will be notified that we are up next on the list, where others like us have been waiting a year or more by then. (The more desirable apartments at our future community have a fuzzy and unpredictable three year wait.)

Once vacant, our future apartment will be renovated–the time frame to completion depending on the state of carpets, paint, fixtures and built-in appliances. And then we will have a thirty-day window in which the moving van will back up, the flotsam will pack up, and the recent resident elders will bug out.


► Short Answer: it is sold! 🎈 🎉

We met with our realtor in January, to take the long view towards departure in late Fall of this year. We expected to list around the first of April. Demand is high in Floyd County, supply is low for housing. So we expected a quick sale. It happened way quicker than we expected!

In a nutshell, word of mouth (including this Substack space) and personal contacts brought buyers to our door in the middle of February and the contract is signed. That part of our future is known. You can imagine the weight lifted off our shoulders, not having to show the house but ONE TIME!

The additional miracle is that our buyers are one in a thousand, whose needs match our vague best guess about handing over possession. Closing date is 30 days from our notice of a firm occupancy date on a renovated apartment in Columbia. It may be into 2025, depending on the persistence of current occupants of our future apartment, may they live forever somewhere else.


By the end of September, I want to have nothing in the house but those items that will fit in 940 square feet of apartment space. To get there, everything not going into the moving van must go to somewhere else. We are trying to make that happen by selling or donating or discarding with as little wasted effort as possible. This is tedious, and will easily take us until October 1 to pull off.

With this post I have come to cruising speed in our travelogue. The hard decisions have been made. A plan is in mind if not yet in place. We are still, but still moving.

There is nothing left to do but wait. We will do our best to enjoy both journeys—the one from today until the van backs in; and the one that begins as those taillights pull away in a Blue Ridge fog, bound for Missouri or bust.

– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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